InHouse Records

Cultural Impact Development Fund

The prison-based record label is using its loan to extend its services from behind bars to ongoing support upon release.

InHouse Records

Region: London
Discipline: Music
Investment size: £77,000

As the world’s first fully functional record label launched in prison, InHouse Records, is a label for change with a mission to see safer communities, fewer victims of crime, and for prisons – rehabilitation and employment with dignity and aspiration.  Since launching in September 2017, InHouse’s work has engaged hard-to-reach populations both in prisons and through-the-gate, through music-based training programmes for prisoners and ex-offenders. With a focus on using music to improve core competencies and employability skills, its long-term goal is to help graduates lead empowered, fulfilling, and crime-free lives and, ultimately, to reduce re-offending. 

The organisation has two programme strands to support people both in the prison system and upon release. Clients of the in-prison programme engage with InHouse four days a week through a combination of group and individualised curriculum, including instrumental lessons, songwriting, recording, label management, and showcase production. Through developing sustained relationships creating enabling environments, and taking an strengths-based approach, InHouse supports its clients to develop their core competencies and employability skills while undertaking all the work needed to run a fully functional record label. As more of its clients have been released, InHouse has also begun developing its through-the-gate offer to ensure continued opportunities for engagement and development. 

Building Financial Resilience 

When InHouse approached CIDF for investment, it was in a position to grow its in-prison services. However, the Founder & CEO was conscious of the risk of growing too quickly and without the complementary through-the-gate services for graduates of the programme upon their release. The organisation therefore requested an unsecured loan of £90,000 to support the development of a community support hub in the form of a pop-up record store and recording studio. 

The hub will serve as a safe space for graduates of its in-prison programme to continue their path towards rehabilitation and re-entry into employment. As a fully operational store selling vinyl records, CDs, and other merchandise, the pop-up will provide graduates with the opportunity to engage with employment, produce music, and perform live showcases. Additionally, the studio will serve as a space for musicians of all kinds to record, produce, and release music under the InHouse label, providing a source of earned income to subsidise operations. 

Central to the success of this expansion project is the acquisition of premises that are both commercially viable as a record store, but also safe and easily accessible for members to use for meetings with probation officers and other community gatherings. As InHouse is  currently in the process of procuring its premises, CIDF has structured the loan with an upfront release of capital to maintain through-the-gate services for recent graduates while the lease is finalised. Once the organisation has a signed lease for the pop-up record store and studio, the remaining investment will be released to refurbish the space and purchase sales stock studio equipment.

With a focus on using music to improve core competencies and employability skills, the organisation's long-term goal is to help graduates lead empowered, fulfilling, and crime-free lives and, ultimately, to reduce re-offending. 

Impact Capacity Development

As part of the investment process, InHouse also received one-to-one support developing its approach to monitoring and evaluating the impact of its work. From inception, it knew that having robust evidence of impact would be key to developing relationships with prisons and the wider criminal justice system. As a result, it already had embedded systems of collecting regular evaluation data. 

Through working with CIDF, InHouse has begun to take this approach to the next level. It received support to identify the wider evidence base on the effectiveness of music-based interventions in the criminal justice sector. This allowed it to flesh out its Theory of Change and more clearly articulate how its work would contribute to its long-term goal of reducing re-offending. It also developed a clearer framework outlining its approach to collecting and analysing evaluation data – a key tool for an organisation that is swimming in data and needs a streamlined way to ensure that management gets the information it needs.

InHouse also worked with CIDF to develop a five-year impact development plan, with annual targets for its outputs, outcomes, and on-going efforts to improve its capacity for delivering and managing its impact. This plan allowed InHouse to take a longer-term strategic view of its impact. For the purposes of the CIDF loan, which offers financial incentives in return for social impact, the targets set out in this plan will also determine any reductions in its interest rate.